Hail to the King (On Day Three, Anyway)
By Max Shapiro

Day three of the World Series of Poker championship was marked by dramatic up and down chip movement. But the most extreme change came at the tail end. Returning from the dinner break, Bruno "The King" Fitoussi, who runs the Aviation Club in Paris, was down to $10,000. Three hours later, when the field had been cut down to the target of 45, he had become the chip leader with an astonishing total of $671,500. He had started the day in 36th place with $89,000.

The 45 finalists will return tomorrow to play down to the nine who will be at the final table on Friday.

Fitoussi, of course, experienced more than his share of luck to zoom upwards so breathtakingly. In one hand, he gambled with a 10-8 against Abraham Rosenkrantz' pocket kings and outran him. Another time, he started with pocket sixes against Amir Vahedi and made sixes full when the board came Q-8-2-6-Q, relieving Vahedi of close to 100k.

THE REALLY BIG QUESTION

Unfortunately, "Minneapolis Jim" Meehan busted out early and I was unable to ask him the question on everyone's lips: What did he have when he moved in against Andy Glazer, causing Andy to make a big laydown with pocket kings on Day Two? So, for the time being, we will have to go with what Meehan told Amir Vahedi, that he also had pocket cowboys.

Day Three started with Vahedi the chip leader with $404,400, followed by British policeman Bryan Watkins with $247,900. Just before the 4:30 break, I wandered around eyeballing chips. Amazingly, Vahedi and Watkins were now virtually dead even co-chip leaders with around $390,000 each. Watkins had largely evened up against Amir when he relieved him of about $50,000. Watkins, the British police officer, moved in when he made a straight, and Vahedi, holding As-7s, was on a flush draw, and decided not to gamble and folded. Others with substantial chips at that time included Scotty Nguyen, $185k; Jeff Shulman, 175k; Phil Hellmuth, 160k; Phil Ivey, 160; Howard Lederer, 120; Men "The Master" 105k; and David Chiu, 100k.

THE COP SAYS YES!

At 5:15, a yell of YES! Shook the room. Card Payer associate editor Mark Gregorich had gone all in with pocket kings against Watkins' pocket 10s. Gregorich took the lead when a king flopped and then made trips when another king turned. But a river 10 gave Watkins a full house. He knocked out Gregorich and took the chip lead with about $600,000. The British cop later hit a peak of about 700k before dropping down to $360,500 at day's end, while Vahedi ended up with $237,500.

When the day's action ceased at 10:30, there was still an hour and 59 minutes left at level 14, which had $500 antes and blinds of $1,500-$3,000. At these limits, it was costing $9,000 to play each round.

THREE CHAMPS LEFT

Three world champions will be returning tomorrow: Scotty Nguyen with $428,500, Phil Hellmuth with $362,000 and Dan Harrington with $175,000. The last woman in the tournament was Annie Duke. She was knocked out in 47th place when she held pocket jacks and couldn't overcome Jason Lester's pocket kings. This leaves Barbara Enright as the only woman ever to make the championship final table. In 1995 (when the final table started with only six players) she finished fifth on a terrible bad beat. She moved in with pocket eights and was called by Brent Carter. He had 6-3 of diamonds and flopped two pair.

THE LOG HITS THE JETT

There were any number of bad beats and theatrical hands that cropped up during the day. In one such hand, Chip Jett got knocked out by Oregon logger Dennis Waterman. Jett flopped a set of kings while Waterman flopped a set of fives, and then made quad fives on the river.

Sam Farha, who on Day One made a straight flush 15 minutes into the start to beat flopped quads and knock out two players, has had a real roller-coaster ride. The first day he was down to 4k, then won six hands in a row to move into strong contention. On Day Two he was back down to $10,000 at one point, then won four hands in a row to climb back up to $130,000, and ended the day with 58k. Then, at 6:15 of the Day Three, he called with pocket kings against a player who moved all in with pocket aces. Farha flopped a king, busted the player and picked up a pot of about $80,000. If the two players had slow-played pre-flop and on the flop, Men "The Master" would have been gone too. Men had raised pre-flop but folded after the player with aces moved in. Had Men been around for the turn, he would have hit a set of sevens and been trapped.

A CRUISE IS BETTER THAN NOTHING

Sixty-three places are being paid in this tournament. As it got close to the money, UltimateBet.com announced that it was adding a consolation prize of a cruise to Aruba, valued at $6,000, to the player unlucky enough to finish "on the bubble," or one out of the money. That player turned out to be John Strzemp, and it wasn't much consolation to him. The former chief financial officer for Steve Wynn's enterprises, Strzemp don't need no cruises. What he wanted was to win this thing. Oh, well, happy cruising, John.

OH, HE RAISED TOO?

One of the saddest things that happened came after a player made a $72,000 raise. An older gentleman, not realizing what had happened, also said "Raise," intending only to open for a modest $6,000 with K-J. But, having verbally committed himself, he was forced to put up $147,000 in the pot ($72k x 2, plus the $3,000 that had been in the pot, and he ended up losing half his stacks. He accepted his mistake and did not try to protest.

IS THAT SCOTTY?

Scotty Nguyen, incidentally, recently shaved his head, and without his trademark black flowing locks now has some resemblance to a space alien. As a service to our readers, who want to know such things, I asked him if he had lost a bet, similar to when Hellmuth went bald after wagering against Robert Varkonyi winning the 2002 World Series. Nothing like that, he said. His wife had complained that he loved his hair more than he loved her, so to show his devotion, he got shorn. (Varkonyi was incredulous when I relayed the story to him. "You can't believe anything a poker player says," he cautioned me.)

Well, it's a heartwarming story. I'd do the same to prove my love for my sweetie, Barbara Enright, but nature beat me to it a long time ago.

Of the 37 players players who got into the championship tourney via PokerStars, two made it into the money: Olof Thorson and Chris Moneymaker. The aptly named Moneymaker, still very much in the race with $357,000, in fact busted a low-chipped Johnny Chan right before the 4:30 break. Chan had repeatedly been coming over the top against the uncertain Moneymaker. Finally Chris picked up pocket queens and broke Chan, who held A-J. After that, he seemed to lose his nervousness and played with more assurance.

THE END IS NEAR

Players began getting knocked out fairly quickly as the field narrowed. It took about 20 minutes to go from 61 players down to 54, when there was a redrawing for seats. Things slowed somewhat after that, but it was still a reasonably early hour at 10:30 when Jules Bui busted out in 46th place. Look for more of a marathon tomorrow. It might go fast in the early stages, but nobody will give up easily when they're getting close to that magical final table.

There will be redraws at 36, 27, 18, and a consolidation at 10 (even though only nine will make the TV show Friday), so even if someone draws a bad spot, he only has to outlast nine players to get hope for a better position/table.


2003 WORLD SERIES OF POKER
$10,000 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT
DAY THREE RESULTS

PLAYER CHIPS NEW TABLE NEW SEAT
FITOUSSI, BRUNO $671,500 3 8
BOYD, DUTCH $491,500 2 9
NGUYEN, SCOTTY $428,500 1 2
HELLMUTH, PHIL $362,000 2 8
WATKINS, BRYAN $360,500 5 9
MONEYMAKER, CHRIS $357,000 3 4
FARHA, SAM $354,000 2 6
SINGER, DAVID $334,500 4 4
SHULMAN, JEFF $327,500 1 8
HOANG, CHUC $264,500 1 7
LESTER, JASON $261,500 3 6
NGUYEN, MINH $251,500 1 9
VAHEDI, AMIR $237,500 4 8
DEEB, KASSAM $232,000 4 6
THORSON, OLOF I. $227,000 1 6
BRENES, HUMBERTO $227,000 3 9
LEDERER, HOWARD $224,500 1 1
HARRINGTON, DAN $176,500 4 9
LUSKE, MARCEL $174,500 5 4
GRIGORIAN, CHRIS $174,000 4 2
GEERS, ROBERT $165,000 2 2
ROSE, MARK $162,500 3 5
BENVENITSI, TOMER $159,500 5 8
NGUYEN, MEN $159,000 4 7
BILL JONES $157,000 2 7
ANASTASYADIS, KOSTANTIN $144,000 5 2
DUONG, TAM (TONY D) $141,500 2 5
WHEELER, STUART $128,500 3 3
SONG, KEVIN K. $124,000 1 5
MILLER, JIM $122,500 3 7
PAK, YONG $114,000 5 1
WATERMAN, DENNIS $95,500 3 2
RAMDIN, ANNJANO $70,000 4 3
PLASTIK, DAVID $69,000 2 3
IVEY, PHILLIP $67,000 1 3
LENNAARD, KEN R. $65,500 2 1
ROSENKRANTZ, ABRAHAM. $61,500 5 5
KASTLE, CASEY $47,000 1 4
THOMAS, HARRY $45,500 5 7
ZEIDMAN, CORY $39,000 4 1
HARDIE, GEORGE $31,000 3 1
JAMES, KENNA $26,000 4 5
GREY, DAVID $22,500 5 6
DARDEN JR., PAUL $17,500 2 4
JENSON, OOD ERLEND $16,000 5 3

PLAYERS BY TABLE

PLAYER CHIPS NEW TABLE NEW SEAT
LEDERER, HOWARD $224,500 1 1
NGUYEN, SCOTTY 1 2 $428,500 1 2
IVEY, PHILLIP $67,000 1 3
KASTLE, CASEY $47,000 1 4
SONG, KEVIN K. $124,000 1 5
THORSON, OLOF I. $227,000 1 6
HOANG, CHUC $264,500 1 7
SHULMAN, JEFF $327,500 1 8
NGUYEN, MINH $251,500 1 9
       
LENNAARD, KEN R. $65,500 2 1
GEERS, ROBERT $165,000 2 2
PLASTIK, DAVID $69,000 2 3
DARDEN JR., PAUL $17,500 2 4
DUONG, TAM (TONY D) $141,500 2 5
FARHA, SAM $354,000 2 6
BILL JONES $157,000 2 7
HELLMUTH, PHIL $362,000 2 8
BOYD, DUTCH $491,500 2 9
       
HARDIE, GEORGE $31,000 3 1
WATERMAN, DENNIS $95,500 3 2
WHEELER, STUART $128,500 3 3
MONEYMAKER, CHRIS . $357,000 3 4
ROSE, MARK $162,500 3 5
LESTER, JASON $261,500 3 6
MILLER, JIM $122,500 3 7
FITOUSSI, BRUNO $671,500 3 8
BRENES, HUMBERTO $227,000 3 9
       
ZEIDMAN, CORY $39,000 4 1
GRIGORIAN, CHRIS $174,000 4 2
RAMDIN, ANNJANO $70,000 4 3
SINGER, DAVID $334,500 4 4
JAMES, KENNA $26,000 4 5
DEEB, KASSAM $232,000 4 6
NGUYEN, MEN $159,000 4 7
VAHEDI, AMIR $237,500 4 8
HARRINGTON, DAN $176,500 4 9
       
PAK, YONG $114,000 5 1
ANASTASYADIS, COSTANTIN $144,000 5 2
JENSON, OOD ERLEND $16,000 5 3
LUSKE, MARCEL $174,500 5 4
ROSENKRANTZ, ABRAHAM. $61,500 5 5
GREY, DAVID $22,500 5 6
THOMAS, HARRY $45,500 5 7
BENVENITSI, TOMER $159,500 5 8
WATKINS, BRYAN $360,500 5 9

ELIMINATED DAY THREE (IN THE MONEY)

46 Bui Jules $20,000
47 Annie Duke $20,000
48 Timothy D Johnson $20,000
49 Barry Greenstein $20,000
50 John Inashima $20,000
51 Matthew W Allen $20,000
52 Daniel R Dumont $20,000
53 Charles S Doumitt $20,000
54 Julian Gardner $20,000
55 David Chiu $15,000
56 Julien J Studley $15,000
57 Rory F Liffey $15,000
58 Jonathan Kaplan $15,000
59 Tod L Reichert $15,000
60 Brian Nadell $15,000
61 Bruce Atkinson $15,000
62 Charles Shoten $15,000
63 George Rechnitzer $15,000

ELIMINATED DAY THREE (OUT OF THE MONEY):
ALIMI, DAVID; ANDREW, HOWARD "TAHOE"; APPLEMAN, MICKEY; BARCH, JOHN D.; BEHL, RICHARD; BENICHOU, PAUL S.; BERMAN, LYLE A.; BROWN, CHAD; BUONOCORE, BRYAN C.; CANTOR, CLIFFORD; M. CHA, JIMMY; CHAN, JOHNNY; COMEE, WILLIAM D.; DELAMOS, PETER; DYKES, CALVIN R., DDS; EPSTEIN, MICHAEL; FAN, FRANCIS; FRED, SAMUEL; FRITZ, ANDREAS; GREGORICH, MARK; HALE, JOHNNY; HALLAN, PRIYANAND; HAUGAN, PETER; HAVESON, BRIAN D.; HENEGHAN, PAT; HOELLEIN, JON; JACOBS, KEN; JETT, CHIP; KALLAKIS, ACHILLEAS M;. KLINGER, PEPE; LAZZARO, KEVIN K.; LOTT, STEVE; LUMLEY, DAVID L.; MAHMOOD, AYAZ; MAY, MIKEl MAYFIELD, SCOTT D.; MCCLAIN, MICHAEL; MEEHAN, JAMES M.; MCKLEROY, MIKE K.; PERRY, RALPH; PIPE, RICHARD S; QUINTERO, REFUGIO V.; SARCONE, JAMES D.; SIMMONS, REGINALD B.; STRZEMP, JOHN; THUNG, ROY; VANHORN, BRUCE M; VINAS, TOMMY.

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